David Holmes probably needs no introduction. But just in case you haven’t heard of him, he’s the 40-year-old Southwest Airlines flight attendant whose in-flight safety announcement is making the rounds on YouTube. I asked him how he became the rapping flight attendant.
Q: Where did you come up with the idea of rapping an in-flight safety announcement?
Holmes: I did my first rap for our flight attendant graduation class. And I quickly realized, as I began flying, how many customers tune-out when we start demonstrating that very important information. I wanted a way to keep their attention. From there, it just took off.
Q: Whose idea was it to tape your in-flight announcement and put it online?
Holmes: The one that started all of this was recorded by a customer on her cell phone. We were having a great time and, at the end of the flight, she said “I’m going to put this on YouTube.”
Q: It sounded like you had a lot of practice with that particular song. Have you delivered that safety announcement before?
Holmes: It’s been an evolving performance. I have several versions to mix and match through any part of the flight.
Q: Did you expect the reaction?
Holmes: The reaction almost always surprises me because it’s just so much more than I expect. I read the room, you know. Some flights are all business. But most of the time, I know they’re going to like it and it’s going to make the flight more fun.
Q: I hear some Old School cadences in your rapping. Who are your musical influences?
Holmes: As you said, anything Old School — LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, Lil Chris.
Q: When you have an idea for something like this, what’s the standard operating procedure at Southwest? Do you ask for approval from a supervisor? Do you have to run this by anyone before delivering it?
Holmes: The very first flight I rapped on happened to have a Southwest Airlines flight attendant supervisor on board. When she said ‘nice job,’ I knew it might be a hit.
Q: The Federal Aviation Administration has some pretty strict requirements about in-flight safety announcements. How did you ensure that you met those, while still maintaining your artistic integrity?
Holmes: Everything we have to say is carefully scripted for us — all the safety information. As you know, one challenge is getting people to listen — the other is making sure they have all the info. Why shouldn’t it be fun?
Q: How have your colleagues reacted to your YouTube stardom? How about other passengers?
Holmes: I know it’s catching on because on almost every flight I get a customer or a fellow Employee saying ‘Wow! I just saw you on YouTube or TV.
Q: What’s next for you? Has anyone offered you a contract?
Holmes: Still waiting.
Q: People will want to know where they can catch your next in-flight safety announcement live. What flights are you on these days?
Holmes: I’m based in Las Vegas but I’m all over the map — and I don’t know where I’ll be until a week-or-so out.
Q: Would it be asking too much for an encore performance?
Holmes: This is flight 372 on SWA
The flight attendants onboard serving you today
Theresa in the middle, David in the back
My name is David and I’m here to tell you that
Shortly after takeoff, first things first
There’s soft drinks and coffee to quench your thirst
But if you want another kind of drink then just holler
Alcoholic beverages will be four dollars
If a Monster energy drink is your plan
That’ll be three dollars and you get the whole can
We won’t take your cash, you gotta pay with plastic
If you have a coupon, then that’s fantastic
We know you’re ready to go new places
Open up the bins and put away your suitcases
Carry on items go under the seat
In front of you so none of you have things by your feet
If you have a seat on a row with an exit
We’re gonna talk to you so you might as well expect it
You gotta help evacuate in case we need you
If you don’t wanna then we’re gonna reseat you
Before we leave, our advice is
Put away your electronic devices
Fasten your seatbelt, then put your trays up
Press the button to make your seat back raise up
Sit back, relax, have a good time
It’s almost time to go, so I’m done with the rhyme
Thank you for the fact that I wasn’t ignored
This is Southwest Airlines, welcome aboard